Monday, December 22, 2008

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Friday it snowed. It snowed, and it was very cold. At one point in the late afternoon, early evening, my husband reported that it was 24 deg. outside, but it felt like 11. (It was the internet;s conclusion, but this time I think he agreed with their assessment.) I know there are colder places, but suffice it to say that it was icy out. Saturday, I had plans. I hoped for clear roads and clear weather.

Saturday, the plan was to head for Provo to see John Allred's Christmas shows. The first started at 7:30 p.m., and the second was supposed to start 1t 9:30 p.m. The first was an acoustic set, while the second was with a full band. The name of the venue is The Velour. John has asked me to take photos. I was nervous because there is a difference between taking photos and hoping for good ones, and taking some for someone who would probably like a few good shots to come from the set.

Provo is about an hour and 18 mins. from me, if you believe Google Maps. But it was Saturday at around 4:37 p.m. when I left, and it was snowing lightly, and it was cold and icy. The roads were mostly clear, but not completely. People were driving like it was a sunny day, possibly in an attempt to finish up their Christmas preparations. For the most part the trip was rather uneventful, other than two traffic slowdowns, one of them most likely due to a few cars being cleared from the side of the road. But I made it to Provo and to the venue safely, in a little over an hour and a half.

It was cold outside the Velour when I arrived, and one of the guys was unloading their vehicle from the curbside, and I parked behind him trying to make sure there was plenty of room between us. There were a few kids already waiting outside, and I started a conversation with them. I finally caught someone's attention and left my camera inside. Down the street, I could see one of the lighted signs announcing the time and the fact that it was 26 degrees outside, then 25 degrees, then 3 degrees C. I know it gets colder sometimes, but I was plenty cold enough. I took out my cell phone and snapped a pic of the temperature, then went two doors down for some hot apple cider and to use the ladies room. I got a kick out of the bathroom I used because it was a cafe/music place called The Muse, and the bathroom was decorated with old 33-1/3 rpm records. I chuckled when I saw Peter & Gordon. I used to like them. I'm still a fan of vocal harmonies. Not long after I arrived back at the door of the Velour, John let me in to wait.

The Velour is an interesting place. When you enter the room you notice just how eclectic everything is. Someone was moving a small "buddah" to a new location and rearranging things to ready for the show. In some ways the decor reminded me of things you'd find at a 70's garage sale. At the far end was a stage decoraged with white Christmas lights. There was a curtain at the back of the stage. To the side, was one strange piece of artwork, which if I recall correctly, was on a yellow background. There were some strange charicatures on there that I would have difficulty describing without looking at it directly. However, the first character in the picure was shaped like the bottom of a hand, or probably more intended was another part of the anatomy that was less seemly. The place did have a certain charm, however, weird paintings and all.

Just around the corner from the front door, there was a very small "stage-like" area with a chair and mike. A green velour sofa was at the front and a burnt orange chair sat next to it. On the left wall were some "benches" of a sort, that look rather like steps. Behind the sofa were rows of metal folding chairs. On the wall behind the mike was a oval mirror, and on the right side in front, there was a plastic lighted santa. He definitely could have been 70's. There was a light on the left side of the stage, that was just a cirle light with colored lights. That was the stage lighting. I knew I was in trouble. LOL

Once it was about time for things to begin. I sat down in the orange chair on the right side. There was a group of teens already sitting on the couch, and people were filing in. As people entered, there was a sheet of paper where people could write their song requests and tally songs they wanted to here. It was to be an impromptu set list of sorts. The place filled up rather quickly. Once everyone was in, the show started. John was very engaging onstage and the vocals were good as always. Parades was very memorable with everyone singing along. Several times he made comments about people choosing the depressing songs. LOL It was a long set, although I didn't count how many songs, and when John asked what time it was, it was 9:40 p.m. People were lined up in the cold waiting for the 9:30 show. So he played one more song and the transition from show one to show 2 began. Chairs were quickly moved, people filed out, and the doors were opened once again.

I just happened to be standing pretty much dead center and started a conversation with a couple. People filled in around me, and I figured I'd let people know I needed to move about. I didn't think I'd get the best pictures where I was. IT worked. I moved several times, but never could make it to the right side of the stage. I don't like to disturb people too much. I planned to move between songs, but sometimes there wasn't much of a break between them. LOL For the second set there was a backup band and there was a good mix of band, acoustic, and piano driven songs, and John played Parades (a favorite of mine) with a cellist backing him up. At one point he mentioned that a lot of people thought the concert was going to be all Christmas songs at first, and that he was only going to play one and proceeded to sing a very nice rendition of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. He also did a round of "cheesy 80's songs" using a looping machine, ala Jon Foreman style (well, Allred has his own stlye with it, but Jon Foreman is the first person I saw sing into a guitar.) John does it really well, and it's always amazing to listen to.

One thing funny I've noticed here is that occasionally a crowd will want an encore, but I think it just kind of gets lost at the end. I saw that happen at the fair with Natalie Grant. At Natalie's show, it seemed like most people didn't really expect an encore, and so they were tepid in asking for one. In John's case, I think the crowd knows him and rather expects an encore to just happen. There was a call for one more song, with someone in the back shouting 50 more songs, and then it just stopped. It's kind of awkward, but John did come back out and do an encore and everyone pretty much was waiting and expecting it. LOL

After the show, John had promised a song to 3 ladies, and it didn't make it to the set list, so he stayed after, sat on the side of the stage and played it for them. I thought that was pretty cool, and I know they really appreciated it. I talked to John and Shane (bass player, video, sometimes merch guy) for a while before saying my goodbyes and heading for home. I wasn't relishing the drive home. I managed to find the street that leads to the street the freeway was on (I thought the hard part) rather easily, but missed my turn, and had to come back around. I was starving, so I decided to stop at Arby's and get something to eat. I ended up parking in the Carl's Jr. lot to eat my Arby's meal. The funny thing is I would have stopped at Carl's, but it looked closed. It wasn't. So, I finally got back on the road, eventually found the street I'd missed and headed for home. I had to stop once to clean my glasses so I could see, but made it home safely with no major problems. I was tired, and glad to be home, but it was a great night. :)

I worked on pics a bit, and then finally went to bed around 6 a.m. I'm a glutton for punishment. I was up at 9:30 a.m., and I asked Ed to drive me to church as I really hadn't enough sleep for driving. He was gracious enough to give me a ride.
The service was about love, and I'm really glad I didn't sleep in. :)

At any rate, if you haven't checked Allred's music out, you should do so. I have a video clip on one of my blogs around here somewhere. LOL

Merry Christmas and a have a blessed and happy New Year!!


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